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Why don't people just read my mails?

Last post 02-20-2013 4:38 PM by ender. 36 replies.
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  • 02-19-2013 9:44 AM

    Why don't people just read my mails?

    Me: The test version of your new site is ready at http://dev.redacted.com. Please note that the footer link to your Terms and Conditions still gives a 404, since it already points to the live site and obviously the file won't be there yet. This is not an issue. If everything else looks good, we can go live.

    Client: THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AREN'T WORKING!

    Me: Well, like I said in my earlier mail...

    Client: Oh, I didn't read it.

    *sigh*

    I just happen to have a very low fault-tolerance for incompetence
  • 02-19-2013 10:58 AM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    This is why all useful information should be guarded by a pop quiz so that ignorant people can't find it.
  • 02-19-2013 11:02 AM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Monomelodies:

    Why don't people just read my mails?

     

    Possibly because it was it was not clear to a non-technical person.  Assume the lowest common denominator when communicating with clients.

     

  • 02-19-2013 11:36 AM In reply to

    • toon
    • Top 150 Contributor
    • Joined on 01-07-2012
    • The Netherlands
    • Posts 378

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Helix:

    Possibly because it was it was not clear to a non-technical person.  Assume the lowest common denominator when communicating with clients.

    Built a site for a friend the other day. I was told a guy she knew had registered the domain for her, and he'd give me the info so I could publish. Next, I find out the guy wants to do it over the phone. Huh, I remember thinking? Domain and IP info over the phone? Well, fine, I think, and I figure if that's how he wants to do it, then who am I to argue because I need the info, so I call him up: turns out he has no idea what he's doing, and he wanted to talk on the phone for me to make sense of all the numbers and lingo for him. Of course, he didn't have web space for the domain yet. Not surprising in retrospect, since he's not as much a web geek as I am (I do it for a living so I should know a little about these things), but it really threw me for a loop. I somehow just assumed the guy had a hosting account ready and knew how to use it. Maybe it's because I'm used to being around web-savvy people.

    Of course, now something's wrong because what I uploaded to the FTP account isn't showing even though the DNS change has propagated, so now this dude has to submit a support ticket. That'll be a laugh!

  • 02-19-2013 11:38 AM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    henke37:
    This is why all useful information should be guarded by a pop quiz so that ignorant people can't find it.
     

    I once tried something along similar lines. On an internal wiki, we created an area where people could paste useful script snippets used in test. Since it was a dumb wiki (some time ago), all the code syntax would be interpreted in the wiki as formatting, so (a) it would look really weird, and (b) some of the code syntax wouldn't be visible, since the wiki formatter had already interpreted it as formatting. There was an easy workaround - click 'Edit page' on the wiki and you'd get the original source.

    So, I put a big warning at the top of the page, saying "Formatting makes the scripts weird. Click 'Edit page' to see the script in un-mangled form". But I got complaints that the scripts were all mangled.

    So, I changed the link to the scripts page to first go to a new page. This had the same warning as before, and then a link to the scripts, where the link text was something like "I understand I need to click 'Edit page' in order to see the un-mangled scripts." Foolproof, right? Of course not - I had just as many complaints as before*.

    Conclusion? Users don't read anything, ever, for any reason. Corollory - if you have some kind of money-making scheme or business that relies on users being able to read, or indeed find their arse using both hands, you are doomed to failure. 1. Make it simple ; 2. Make it even simpler ; 3. ??? ; 4. Profit?!!


    *not many - the wiki was only used within the internal test group.

     

    [edit] Fixed formatting (I'm too stupid to format a post on a stupid forum).

  • 02-19-2013 11:44 AM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    So the real WTF is that you can't make the link to the terms and conditions work on your staging server...
  • 02-19-2013 11:45 AM In reply to

    • locallunatic
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 05-19-2010
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    • Posts 838

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    scruff:
    Users don't read anything, ever, for any reason.

    The safe bet is to assume users are illiterate and use pictures whenever you can.  It's cut down the complaints that I was getting anyway.

  • 02-19-2013 12:12 PM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Monomelodies:

    Me: The test version of your new site is ready at http://dev.redacted.com. Please note that the footer link to your Terms and Conditions still gives a 404, since it already points to the live site and obviously the file won't be there yet. This is not an issue. If everything else looks good, we can go live.

    Client: THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AREN'T WORKING!

    Me: Well, like I said in my earlier mail...

    Client: Oh, I didn't read it.

    *sigh*

    tl; dr

  • 02-19-2013 12:17 PM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    solitario:
    So the real WTF is that you can't make the link to the terms and conditions work on your staging server...
    yeah, why not just temporarily copy it to the staging server? or write a mock-up page explaining why it's not the same T&C as on the live server?

    Is it a WTF that people don't read emails thoroughly? Yes, definitely.

    But it's also a WTF that you're over the age of 12 (I presume) and haven't already realized this and haven't already taken steps to make the explanation in the emails unnecessary with the understanding that the email won't be read.

    So life lesson learned. Hopefully.

      <-  I couldn't make my shit work, so here's a Godzilla head.
  • 02-19-2013 3:09 PM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Uhm, you actually have to test that people read the text, not ask them if they read it.
  • 02-19-2013 3:16 PM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    scruff:

    There was an easy workaround - click 'Edit page' on the wiki and you'd get the original source.

    So, I put a big warning at the top of the page, saying "Formatting makes the scripts weird. Click 'Edit page' to see the script in un-mangled form". But I got complaints that the scripts were all mangled.

    So, I changed the link to the scripts page to first go to a new page. This had the same warning as before, and then a link to the scripts, where the link text was something like "I understand I need to click 'Edit page' in order to see the un-mangled scripts." Foolproof, right? Of course not - I had just as many complaints as before*.

    Give them the warning.  Then offer them a choice of two buttons, one labeled "Edit Page" and one labeled "Don't Edit Page".  Put a caption above them that asks "which of these buttons are you going to push if you want to see the scripts unmangled?"

    Make the first button go to the wiki.

    Make the second button go to goatse.cx.

    Problem solved.

     

  • 02-19-2013 4:43 PM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Helix:
    Possibly because it was it was not clear to a non-technical person. 
    That. Whilst your email's correct, not many people will understand the term "404". Just saying "it doesn't work yet" or "currently unfinished" may be a tad more obvious to the non-tech.

     

  • 02-19-2013 4:45 PM In reply to

    • Zemm
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 11-26-2007
    • Gold Coast, Australia
    • Posts 1,380

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    At least your client tested that link. I still have clients with Lorem ipsum on their terms page even after being live for years.
    Filed Under: Can you think of something that talks, other than a person?
  • 02-19-2013 6:01 PM In reply to

    • Zecc
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 06-12-2007
    • and hasn't left since.
    • Posts 2,059

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    da Doctah:

    Make the first button go to the wiki.

    Make the second button go to goatse.cx.

    Problem solved.

    Here's to hoping that one day we may have the technology to link to the Edit page directly.

     

    If mixed metaphors were illegal, I'd be having an indigestion.
    typeof NaN == 'number'
    var ò_ó, ಠ⁔ಠ, ᄒᆺᄒ, ᅙᅳᅙ, ᖛᨓᖜ, ꖴᅩꖴ, ఠᨋఠ; // Naming your variables is serious business
    Filed under:
  • 02-19-2013 6:49 PM In reply to

    • Cat
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on 07-24-2010
    • Posts 121

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    You'd be shocked (or maybe, if you're jaded, you wouldn't) at how many of my emails follow this pattern:

     

    Me: I've found a problem: <one sentence summary of problem>. Here's how to fix it: <steps to resolve>

    Them: This is a HUGE ISSUE that we need to resolve RIGHT NOW.  How do we fix it?

    Me:  *Copies and pastes the entire first email except the first sentence*

    Them: Thanks!

     

  • 02-19-2013 8:55 PM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Monomelodies:

    Me: The test version of your new site is ready at http://dev.redacted.com. Please note that the footer link to your Terms and Conditions still gives a 404, since it already points to the live site and obviously the file won't be there yet. This is not an issue. If everything else looks good, we can go live.

    Client: THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AREN'T WORKING!

    Me: Well, like I said in my earlier mail...

    Client: Oh, I didn't read it.

    *sigh*

    This isn't a software WTF, it's a human WTF.  You should probably have sent it to Clients From Hell instead.

  • 02-19-2013 8:59 PM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Cassidy:

    Helix:
    Possibly because it was it was not clear to a non-technical person. 
    That. Whilst your email's correct, not many people will understand the term "404". Just saying "it doesn't work yet" or "currently unfinished" may be a tad more obvious to the non-tech.

    If the client didn't even read it, he could as well have said "weebly woobly farble gloop" and it wouldn't have made any difference.

    Of course, the client could have been lying when they claimed not to have read the email.  A lot of people, when they see something they don't understand, just pretend it isn't there rather than ask what it means.  Then when asked what they thought it meant, they pretend not to have read it rather than admit there was something they didn't understand, because (seemingly) they'd rather be seen as stupid than ignorant.

     


  • 02-19-2013 9:14 PM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    scruff:

    Conclusion? Users don't read anything, ever, for any reason. Corollory - if you have some kind of money-making scheme or business that relies on users being able to read, or indeed find their arse using both hands, you are doomed to failure. 1. Make it simple ; 2. Make it even simpler ; 3. ??? ; 4. Profit?!!


    No, no, no, no...

    1. Make it simple for them to start paying - preferably automatic monthly payments.
    2. Require people to read really, really, really carefully to cancel the automatic payment.
    3. Optional: Reinstate automatic payment without notification.
    4. Profit.
  • 02-19-2013 10:00 PM In reply to

    • ekolis
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on 01-09-2008
    • Cincinnati, OH, USA
    • Posts 600

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    So wait, he reads the terms and conditions, but not your email? Must be a lawyer...
    I'm Spark Mandrill, and I'll... hey... can I... what, it BOUNCES?... 'kay, I'm splodin' now.
  • 02-20-2013 5:30 AM In reply to

    • dkf
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-24-2008
    • Manchester, UK
    • Posts 1,138

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Ex-Navy Dude:
    1. Make it simple for them to start paying - preferably automatic monthly payments.
    2. Require people to read really, really, really carefully to cancel the automatic payment.
    3. Optional: Reinstate automatic payment without notification.
    4. Profit.
    Careful with #3; that sort of greed can get you into trouble with courts. You should be able to bamboozle more than enough money out of your "customers" without getting into that sort of trouble.
  • 02-20-2013 5:42 AM In reply to

    • toon
    • Top 150 Contributor
    • Joined on 01-07-2012
    • The Netherlands
    • Posts 378

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    ekolis:
    So wait, he reads the terms and conditions, but not your email? Must be a lawyer...

    IANAL but I'd say that e-mail would qualify as "in writing" and may well be admissible in court.

    Morbs said he used to be a lawyer, where is that guy, anyway? It's like he just up and left.

  • 02-20-2013 5:47 AM In reply to

    • Zemm
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 11-26-2007
    • Gold Coast, Australia
    • Posts 1,380

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    The text in #2 would let #3 work. Just have to make sure it's hidden in all the legalese.
    Filed Under: Can you think of something that talks, other than a person?
  • 02-20-2013 6:48 AM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    DaveK:
    he could as well have said "weebly woobly farble gloop"
     

    It's what I say in all my emails. Never heard anything about it.


    In complex analysis, a meromorphic function on an open subset D of the complex plane is a function that is holomorphic on all D except a set of isolated points

  • 02-20-2013 8:18 AM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    toon:
    Morbs said he used to be a lawyer, where is that guy, anyway? It's like he just up and left.
    You have to post xkcd comics three times and he appears in the tags.
    I denounce myself for this post
  • 02-20-2013 8:23 AM In reply to

    • toon
    • Top 150 Contributor
    • Joined on 01-07-2012
    • The Netherlands
    • Posts 378

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    boomzilla:
    toon:
    Morbs said he used to be a lawyer, where is that guy, anyway? It's like he just up and left.
    You have to post xkcd comics three times and he appears in the tags.

    Shhh... He might have turned into a psychotic lurker for all we know.

  • 02-20-2013 9:13 AM In reply to

    • Hmmmm
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 06-13-2012
    • Posts 47

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    toon:

    Shhh... He might have turned into a psychotic lurker for all we know.

    What do you mean, "turned into"?
  • 02-20-2013 9:24 AM In reply to

    • Zecc
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 06-12-2007
    • and hasn't left since.
    • Posts 2,059

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Hmmmm:
    toon:

    Shhh... He might have turned into a psychotic lurker for all we know.

    What do you mean, "turned into"?
    He means Morbs wasn't a lurker before. Duh.

     

    If mixed metaphors were illegal, I'd be having an indigestion.
    typeof NaN == 'number'
    var ò_ó, ಠ⁔ಠ, ᄒᆺᄒ, ᅙᅳᅙ, ᖛᨓᖜ, ꖴᅩꖴ, ఠᨋఠ; // Naming your variables is serious business
  • 02-20-2013 9:36 AM In reply to

    • ender
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-27-2006
    • Sunny side of the Alps
    • Posts 1,445

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    scruff:
    Conclusion? Users don't read anything, ever, for any reason.
    Don't I know it.... I provide Windows installers for a certain popular open-source program, and I had (before I moved to SourceForge) the source code available on a page that was linked with a slightly hidden link (the page with Windows downloads had a very prominent link in the sidebar, and was linked from the top of the welcome page). The source code page had a red blinking "Do not download" sign, another link to the Windows installers, and a very short text describing why those downloads aren't what regular users want. None of this prevented me from getting several "What do I do with the .c files?" e-mails per week.
    Because 10 billion years' time is so fragile, so ephemeral... it arouses such a bittersweet, almost heartbreaking fondness.
  • 02-20-2013 10:16 AM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    DaveK:
    If the client didn't even read it, he could as well have said "weebly woobly farble gloop"....
     

    Yeah, troo.dat - I guess the real question should have been "why didn't someone understand what I wrote in my mail?"

    toon:
    Morbs said he used to be a lawyer, where is that guy, anyway? It's like he just up and left.
     

    Perhaps he worked for Enron.

     

  • 02-20-2013 10:18 AM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    ender:
    The source code page had a red blinking "Do not download" sign, another link to the Windows installers, and a very short text describing why those downloads aren't what regular users want. None of this prevented me from getting several "What do I do with the .c files?" e-mails per week.
     

    Tried shoving that info into a big FAQ that you can use in your response?

    "Refer to 1.4 of the FAQ here that says 'In my impatience I downloaded the wrong file now what do I do?' "

  • 02-20-2013 10:26 AM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Cassidy:
    "Refer to 1.4 of the FAQ here that says 'In my impatience I downloaded the wrong file now what do I do?' "

    I love the idea of a FAQ in which every question is self-incriminating.

    Signatures are stupid.
  • 02-20-2013 11:15 AM In reply to

    • locallunatic
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 05-19-2010
    • (YourLocation==USA-KY?local:MisleadingUsername)
    • Posts 838

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    joe.edwards:
    Cassidy:
    "Refer to 1.4 of the FAQ here that says 'In my impatience I downloaded the wrong file now what do I do?' "

    I love the idea of a FAQ in which every question is self-incriminating.

    I do too, and I may lift your PAQ naming as well.

  • 02-20-2013 3:31 PM In reply to

    • ender
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-27-2006
    • Sunny side of the Alps
    • Posts 1,445

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Cassidy:
    Tried shoving that info into a big FAQ that you can use in your response?
    I had a FAQ with an entry about this, but do you really believe that the users who skipped the red blinking text would actually read something on another page? I did set up my mailer to automatically respond with a link to that question if the right keywords were in the message.
    Because 10 billion years' time is so fragile, so ephemeral... it arouses such a bittersweet, almost heartbreaking fondness.
  • 02-20-2013 3:42 PM In reply to

    • dkf
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-24-2008
    • Manchester, UK
    • Posts 1,138

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    Zemm:
    The text in #2 would let #3 work. Just have to make sure it's hidden in all the legalese.
    Not in all jurisdictions, it won't. Some courts would view it as just an invitation to rip you a new one or two. You also cannot guarantee that they'll sue in your preferred jurisdiction, or stick to using your friendly arbitrator. Consumer protection law is very tightly defined in some parts of the world (generally in response to systematic attempts by assholes to abuse the laws that preceded it).
  • 02-20-2013 3:51 PM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    ender:
    I had a FAQ with an entry about this, but do you really believe that the users who skipped the red blinking text would actually read something on another page?
     

    No, but directing them to a location that had all the answers may embarrass them into reading more carefully.

    ender:
    I did set up my mailer to automatically respond with a link to that question if the right keywords were in the message.

    Ah, okay - beat me to it. Was thinking of that.

     

  • 02-20-2013 4:08 PM In reply to

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    ender:
    I did set up my mailer to automatically respond with a link to that question if the right keywords were in the message.

    Funny, as a customer I usually try all the methods of self-service support before bothering a rep with my request, and then I include what steps I've already tried to address the problem. When I get a canned response, my first thought is "he didn't bother even reading my ticket!"

    Signatures are stupid.
  • 02-20-2013 4:38 PM In reply to

    • ender
    • Top 50 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-27-2006
    • Sunny side of the Alps
    • Posts 1,445

    Re: Why don't people just read my mails?

    joe.edwards:
    Funny, as a customer I usually try all the methods of self-service support before bothering a rep with my request, and then I include what steps I've already tried to address the problem. When I get a canned response, my first thought is "he didn't bother even reading my ticket!"
    I set up the filter to color the message when it prepared an automatic response, so I could quickly check if the automatic response was(n't) appropriate. I don't remember it ever being wrong.
    Because 10 billion years' time is so fragile, so ephemeral... it arouses such a bittersweet, almost heartbreaking fondness.
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